Two dead, one injured after butane tank erupts at Madisonville home

Two dead, one injured after butane tank erupts at Madisonville home
Published: Mar. 9, 2018 at 2:44 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2018 at 8:41 PM CST
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Robert White. Source: Family
Robert White. Source: Family

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Authorities responded to a fatal fire in Madisonville Friday that killed two people and injured another.

Family members said the two victims who died were 91-year-old Robert White, who was blind, and 61-year-old Adele Cooper. The fire broke out just before 7 a.m. in the 200 block of Galatas Road.

"And so I run out the front door, and when I came up, it was just awful," said family member James Tanner. "I tried to kick the door in because they said my uncle and Adele was inside, so when I kicked the door in,  the fire just jumped out and threw me and her brother off the porch."

Two others were in the home. One was taken to an area hospital with injuries, according to the State Fire Marshal. Another escaped the fire without harm.

Police said someone in the home was using a butane tank as a source of heat for the home when the tank erupted. One survivor said they heard a hissing noise before the fire, which likely came from the 5-gallon propane bottle with a heating burner attached, according to the State Fire Marshal.

"It's just a terrible loss, and we're just kind of shocked and heartbroken right now," said family member Ursula Dorsey.

Family members said the victims had lived in the home for decades.

The St. Tammany Parish Coroner's Office and Dr. Charles Preston issued the following statement Friday evening:

"The autopsies were completed on Mr. Robert White and Ms. Adele Cooper. The preliminary findings indicate both victims died of asphyxia due to smoke inhalation, and I have ruled the manner of death as accidental. These results are preliminary, pending toxicology studies.

"My condolences go out to the family members who escaped the blaze, and to the rest of the family on this tragic loss of two members of the family on the same day."

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